By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli/Beida, 8 January 2015:
In a surprise move, UN Special Envoy Bernardino Leon met with General Khalifa Hafter, the . . .[restrict]effective head of Operation Dignity, in Marj today. He also met with other Dignity military officials, including Colonel Saqr Adam Geroushi the head of Dignity’s air force.
Before going to Marj, Leon was in Tobruk for talks with members of the House of Representatives (HoR).
With Libya increasingly polarised, Leon had earlier this week said that that he was running out of ideas and warned that the UN might give up on Libya. The time might be approaching, he said, when “the international community will have to use more stick and less carrot”.
Until now, Leon has steadfastly avoided talking to Hafter on the same grounds that he refused to talk to Omar Al-Hassi – that, legally, he had no official or legitimate position. That appears to have changed with the decision last week when Hafter as well as Geroushi and 127 other officers were formally reitegrated taken back into the armed forces by the President of the HoR, Ageela Salah Gwaider.
It is not clear if today’s meetings has given Leon any reason to reassess his earlier bleak views about dialogue. Hafter is reported to have repeated the Thinni government and HoR line that here would be no talks with “extremists and terrorists” – which Tobruk and Beida usually mean to include Libya Dawn. Moreover, according to Geroushi’s son Tarik, a member of the HoR, dialogue was not discussed. The conversation, he said, was about the military situation.
In Tripoli, the meeting with Hafter will not go down well with Hassi and his supporters and certainly not with the more militant elements in Libya Dawn. Hafter is for them the arch enemy. If anything the meeting in Marj to hear the military view on events in the country will harden the already strong opposition there to dialogue.
However, both the Thinni government and HoR President Salah Gwaider have said in the past couple of days that dialogue is the only way to get out of the current crisis. In the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the cabinet called on all parties to sit down and resolve the current problems by talking, not through the language of arms. [/restrict]